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My body My choice

UCU statement on abortion rights

5 May 2022

The news that the US Supreme Court plans to overturn Roe v Wade - the ruling that gives American women, and anyone else who might need an abortion in the United States, the constitutionally protected right to one that is safe and legal - is shocking and appalling.

If passed, this would make abortion a matter for individual state legislatures and Congress to rule upon, denying women and girls, and anyone else who might need an abortion, the right to access one. Although Roe v Wade has not yet been officially overturned, this is likely to have an impact on abortion rights worldwide.

The developments in the United States are a reminder of how fragile the right to free, safe, and legal abortions is. In the UK, abortion is still not a legal right and remains under serious threat. This is none more so demonstrated by the recent attacks on at-home abortions and the refusal to remove the requirement for two doctors to sign off before an individual gains access. In this moment, we must be clear that bodily autonomy, the right to make choices about your body, is fundamental to all women and trans and non-binary people. Our rights are interwoven and an attack on one is an attack on all.  

Misogyny and patriarchy are at the heart of far right ideologies and their conception of 'appropriate' gender roles. We strongly believe everyone should have autonomy over their bodies and be able to exercise choice without being stigmatised or pathologised.

UCU is a proud affiliate to Abortion Rights, the national pro-choice campaign. It is UCU's position that access to free, safe, and legal abortion is crucial to women's economic, educational and social advancement. Barriers to reproductive rights are barriers to equality. The trade union movement has a proud history of advancing women's rights and defending reproductive choice whenever it has come under attack, and that must continue.

We call on the UK government to clearly condemn this latest assault on women, their bodies, their rights and their lives.

Last updated: 5 May 2022